My question is this and I know that there are some here that are Roman Catholic, how do you go about accepting theological contradictions? I do not mean that to be understood as offensive or taken as being uncharitable, I'm just wondering how you do it. Perhaps Spartacus could help me out here a bit because it really bothers me sometimes. Is it just accepting what Rome teaches and even if one thinks that something may not make much sense? I have a friend who is now Orthodox, he is sincere and truthful for he has suffered much by becoming Orthodox. He mentioned that you more or less come up with answers opposing arguments drawn from all sorts of sources, it that your sense as well?
It's hard to talk about Catholicism, now more than ever, because it is really so many different things as you say.
At it's extremes, it houses the Uniates, charismatic types, neo-ultramontane, Tridentine-rite traditionalists (yes, there are men who are essentially "Lefebvrist" in their outlook, but are on speaking terms with Rome: the Society of St.Peter comes to mind), humanists, and all sorts of people in between. And these people, tend to understand what emminates from the Pope however they see fit, or underline and accentuate what suits them and either ignore or otherwise leave unexamined what does not.
This is also true of Catholicism's history, including it's recent history. Even in the 19th century (when the dogma of "papal infallibility" was defined and the exagerated "rights" of the Pope were given their definitive, "authoratative" definition) even the more extreme innovations of the Latins were defended fundamentally under the guise that these "innovations" in doctrine and praxis were indeed apostolic.
If you carefully read Vatican Council I, it clearly portrays the Pope's infallibility as something "always believed", which is of course absurd (and I think even the most conservative RC, if he is honest and reasonably well informed, would have to qualify this alot
before he could say such a thing.) Yet born in the 19th century was the apology for Catholicism of (the convert from Anglicanism) Henry (Cardinal) Newman - the so called "development of doctrine theory", which while looked at with some suspicion by his contemporaries in the RCC (as were some of his other views), has now been embraced as a god-send by Latin apologists. For without this "development" theory (particularly in an age of wide spread literacy and the printing press), papal innovations would not have a snow-ball's chance in hell of being taken seriously by anyone
(including Roman Catholics themselves, I suspect.)
Fundamentally Catholicism (as a distinct entity, a schism from Holy Orthodoxy) is
Papism - all things are reduced to obedience to the Pope (though that "obedience" word is massaged a lot by the modern Vatican, which is quite sensitive to the abhorence of post-revolutionary men to any notion of heirarchy or authority, save that which they create and consent to). Sure, there are other basic things in the realm of thought and practice which unite the disparate persons which populate the RCC - but then again one could draw the same comparison between any of these "papal groups" and those who are not "in communion with Rome". What does
unite the RC's, ultimatly, is their papism
, whether it is mercenary/pragmatic, or accepted as an edict of Heaven.
Ecclessiastical unity has, above all else, been reduced to administrative unity in Catholicism. While obviously serious RC's would deny this, this is the reality
of Catholicism. Put in a much less flattering way, ecclessiology has been reduced to a demonstration of power
; "lording it over one another"... though in today's egalitarian world (as was previously mentioned), the Vatican is careful in how it presents this. This is not to say that it ever denies it's "God given powers" in all of this (though I often think that even the Pope himself doesn't buy into his own press...sadly, he doesn't take exception enough
to correct anything either) - but now days it will not insist upon them. This is much like how the RC - Orthodox "ecumenical dialogue" is going; the Pope is willing to "excercise his ministry in other ways", supposedly more in accord with the situation pre-1054. What is implicit in this though, is that such a "limiting" of the Papacy is a farce; Patriarchs and Bishops would not really
be such in this arrangement - they would be such only out of the Pope's benevolence. Strictly speaking, his "rights" would remain in tact, should he want to use them in the future...
With a unity based on authority, truth
cannot but become secondary (or worse.) Obviously for someone who professes to be Orthodox ("correct
opinion/glory"), that is mind boggling.
In summary, I don't think most papists feel a need to "make sense of it all", or perhaps each is allowed to continue in it's own rationalization of the situation... so long as that "adherance to Peter" is maintained. "Choose your illusion" I suppose.